(Survival) Chapter Fifteen: A Comeback and A Code
Waves of pain roll off my body. My temples are on the verge of splitting open. My throat is parched. A bit of water would do me good, but the devil doesn’t think so.
I am Leila Espion, a former police officer and an ultimate badass. These handcuffs are making me angry and I need to punch someone..
I have a plan and that isn’t dying. Lionel, that sick bastard wants to kill me - how pathetic! He wants to play against Sergeant Kirkland, aims to control a ravaged world. That would be his downfall. Stupid man...
I can hear his steps crunching, outside. He’s coming for me. If it didn’t hurt me so much, I’d have smiled.
The metal door opens and a pair of worn leather boots stop before me.
“Nice to see you again, Leila. Or is this is the last time we meet?"
“I need some water.”
“Before you die?” His chuckle stings me.
“I.. I don’t want to die.”
Pain flashes through my scalp as Banks fists my hair, twisting it. I wince.
“Neither did Emery.”
I want to scream as I look into Lionel’s black eyes. His eyes are black fire. Untamed rage burns there. His words are laced with pain. This man is lost. He needs a lot of love and affection; instead he is..
“Aahhh..” My left cheek burns from his slap.
“Sweet Leila. You want to know what pain is? You want to know what Emery went through? It’s better you die or -”
I taste blood in my mouth and I spit out-
“I’m all yours. I want to live. Please..”
Lionel kneels in front of me, his gaze piercing me, searching thoroughly.
“What trick is this, baby girl?” He takes out a revolver from his pocket. A Smith & Wesson 442. What little light came in through the metal door bounced off the barrel.
Leila, you can do this. I take a deep breath in.
“Lionel, I’ve lost too much. I’ve lost my family, my love... Everything I ever had. I don’t want to lose my life. It doesn’t matter now, how I survive. I want to breathe, I want to live, Lionel. If that means killing off some ‘nobodies’, I’m in. I swear my loyalty to you, Banks. I know the cracks and crevices in Bryan’s team, what ticks him off, what breaks him down.”
His face is an expressionless stone.
“I know you need me. You can’t afford to lose another able bodied worker, can you? Give me a chance. I’ll prove myself worthy. You and I, we both have lost so much. How about we win this together, Lionel?”
I search his rigid face for some sign, all the while hoping that my charade was believable. It had to work. He needs someone close to Bryan Kirkland to make his plans work and I’m the person for it.
The silence in the room intensified, until I could hear the pounding of my heart and the constant ticking of his wrist watch.
He is thinking. He is weighing my words.
“And what will be the punishment of shirking your responsibility, Leila Espion?”
“Good. Remember one thing - I call the shots.”
Lionel Banks walks out but this time the metal door stays open. I hear him bark orders to someone. A burly, bald headed man steps into the room and pulls me up. My head swims and my vision tilts rapidly. The world turns black.
As an unconscious Leila was dragged out into the open, the small crowd of Banks’ followers jeered and joked.
Sue choked on her water and Miles forgot his words.
“Quite a skeleton, isn’t she?”- the guard called out.
Truth be told, she looked ghostly pale and worse than a skeleton.
″ Haley, calm down. We’re good.”
“No, we’re not,” Bryan interrupted. Felix was right behind him. Everything looked the same the last time he walked out of this space. Just one difference, the dilapidated cupboard was empty. The book was gone.
Matt was standing beside a distraught Haley, trying to help the situation.
“You can’t do a single job, can you?”
Matt and Haley flinched at the loud voice.
“Come on, let’s search. Felix, you stay on guard, understood?”
“Um.. Does this help?” Felix was holding a bunch of maps he’d just taken out of his jacket. “I took them to see.. These were in that book.”
“Good boy. The maps are important but we need the book for the key. Keep them safe until we return.”
The ruin she was standing in used to be a garment store. The roof had caved in at some places and the walls were cracked. Now there are deserted racks and too many empty boxes. Whatever clothes remained were looted after the survivors came out of hideout. Monique eyed the doorway. Bryan and Felix were agitated and were searching for this apparently important volume. She had to be quick.
She sat down behind a dump of naked, damaged mannequins and took out the book. Flipping through the pages, she saw boring architectural diagrams and a lot of black and white photographs of buildings which exist no more.
What’s so important in this book?
She ran her finger along the spine then opened the dust jacket and shook it. A piece of paper fell out. Lots of dots and dashes and some slashes.
-- . -..- .. -.-. .- -. / ..-. .- -. / .--. .- .-.. -- / .---- ----. / ..-. . . - / . .- ... - / ..-. .-. --- -- / .--. --- .-. -.-. .... / --... / ..-. . . - / ..- -. -.. . .-.
What is this?
Before everything that happened, she could have googled it, but not now. She pocketed the paper and threw away the book among the mannequins. With brisk steps she walked away.
Only one man can help her.
In her haste she missed a little shadow that slid away.